The Bulls and Zach LaVine are reportedly increasingly open to exploring a trade involving the two-time All-Star. When asked about that report this week, LaVine was evasive and didn’t deny that he might be open to a change of scenery.
One report stated that LaVine was still upset about being benched by head coach Billy Donovan late in a game last year in which he shot 1-of-14 from the field. When Donovan was asked about the recent LaVine rumors, he said the team’s shooting guard has “always been coachable” and that he visited LaVine twice in Los Angeles in the offseason.
“He’s always been been very welcoming when I’ve come out there,” Donovan said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “We’ve always had really good conversations. He’s always responsive to text messages and phone calls. So I haven’t seen anything where it’s like, ‘OK, this guy has really pushed himself all the way over here and he’s just totally disconnected from everybody. I have not seen that at all.
“I would think that if there’s anything he’d want to talk to a teammate about or a coach about or me about that he as a man would come up and do that. I do think our conversations have been very open and honest. And I think he has worked hard at the relationship just as I have.”
According to Johnson, Donovan also said he’s in constant contact with Bulls lead basketball executive Arturas Karnisovas, and suggested that nothing is imminent on the trade front. That makes sense, given that most free agents who signed new deals over the summer aren’t trade-eligible until December 15 or January 15.
Here’s more on the Bulls:
- The Lakers have been linked to LaVine multiple times over the years, including recently. Jovan Buha of The Athletic confirms that L.A. would be interested in the 28-year-old, but only if the price is right. Buha says LaVine’s pricey long-term contract — he’s in the second season of a five-year, maximum-salary deal — is the Lakers’ primary concern. The Lakers also don’t have interest in trading Austin Reaves in a potential LaVine deal, Buha reports.
- Of course, as Buha writes, there are several impediments to a trade possibly coming together. The Lakers can only offer one first-round pick and one pick swap, and the players they could use as salary-matching pieces aren’t eligible to be traded until the aforementioned Dec. and Jan. dates. LaVine also might not be an ideal fit for the Lakers’ roster.
- Chicago is now 4-8 after losing Wednesday’s game to Orlando. If the Bulls pivot to a rebuild in the next few months, multiple sources tell Buha that the Lakers would also be interested in DeMar DeRozan and/or Alex Caruso, and suggests those players would be a higher priority for Los Angeles. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports hears several teams monitoring the Bulls’ situation would be more interested in DeRozan ($28.6MM expiring contract) and Caruso ($19.4MM over the next two seasons) than LaVine.
- Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports that, despite the increasing trade chatter and the team’s poor overall play, the Bulls have had no interest in dealing Caruso in the past and there’s no sign that has changed (Twitter link).
- Danny Chau of The Ringer examines LaVine’s trade value and comes up with five trades that might make sense. In addition to the Lakers and Heat, who have been previously linked to LaVine, Chau comes up with hypothetical trades sending LaVine to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers.